“I promise you it will be a rich and fulfilling experience,” Dr. James Calvin of Johns Hopkins Carey Business School emphasized. He was not wrong. He was talking about Innovation for Humanity (I4H)—Carey Business School’s hallmark practicum. Teamwork and organizational culture are best understood in real world settings, and our trip to India was going to give us a chance to work together with global teams, under real constraints, to create real-time solutions with measurable impact.
Two flights, 8,000 miles, and 19 hours from Baltimore, our journey to India ended with the typical bang of landing gear being deployed, followed by the landing thud of our Etihad’s Airbus. We were now in the city of pearls, or as we would later find out, the city of love. The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School I4H contingent had arrived in Hyderabad.
For most of us, it was a first time to India, and through piles of Hyderabad’s signature Biryani rice, a visit to the diamond rich Golconda region and its UNESCO recognized fort, and the colorful Sankranti Festival with beautiful kites displays, we fell in love with the city.
This year, our team, which took on the nickname Argus (Grace Tsai, Steve DeMars, and Joel Igu), had the pleasure of working with a world leader in vision; the LV Prasad Eye Institute. We were tasked with helping LV Prasad Eye Institute identify ways to better serve their patients at their closest point of care. It was the most rewarding experience with the hospitality and support of our clients exceeding our wildest expectations. Brainstorming through solutions and suggestions for clients is a lot easier when you work with great people who genuinely care about how project outcomes translate to real impact. Working onsite gave us the opportunity to directly observe the systems and people, who we were working for, and immediately schedule meetings with busy doctors and administrative staff, even at short notice.
In two short weeks we were able to hone and polish our ideas, and test our recommendations through engaging conversations with our clients. A quick lunch across the street or on the 5th floor canteen added the rich flavor and nourishment of authentic Indian cuisine to our whiteboard style brainstorming sessions. Multiple rapid trips up and down the busy LVPEI corridors gave us needed ergonomics breaks, as we chuckled past witty signs by elevators that advised “burn calories not electricity.”
It’s easy to see why an organization that aims to give perfect sight to everyone thrives and grows, even while offering all its cutting-edge services to more than 28 million people, half of whom never had to pay for anything. The culture at LV Prasad is unique, and intrinsic to its operations—something that we found very important. Without being in India, it would have been impossible to understand how our client’s culture would shape our recommendations or their implementation.
At the end of an intense experience, back at the Baltimore harbor, we felt proud of our client’s response to our efforts. Indeed, we realized that our team was bigger than we thought; collaborative efforts spurred on by relationship building was a hallmark of team Argus’ experience in India. We made many new friends, and enjoyed our downtime even more because of the attention our sponsors showed us. We will never forget being invited for dinner to a surgeon, Dr. Vipin’s, house where he showed us the secret of the green Indian mint sauce—a flavor whose nostalgic memories will color our fond memories of a beautiful time in India, partnering with passionate professionals and innovating with humanity in mind.